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The REF assessment framework. AAH National Conference March-April 2011. REF is not RAE. Overall assessment framework. Main panel criteria and working methods. Sub-panel specific input. The assessment framework.

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the ref assessment framework
The REF assessment framework


National Conference

March-April 2011

the assessment framework

Overall assessment framework

Main panel criteria and working methods

Sub-panel specific input

The assessment framework

The REF is a single assessment framework, within which panels have flexibility to develop aspects of the criteria and working methods

key documents
Key documents

During 2011, our task is to produce two key documents:

  • Guidance on submissions
  • Panel criteria and working methods
  • These will set in stone what HEIs need to include in their submissions, and how the panels will assess them


  • Impact decisions (Feb)
  • Panel membership (Feb)
  • Guidance on submissions (Jul)
  • Draft panel criteria (Jul)
  • 2012
  • Final panel criteria and methods (Jan)
  • Test submissions system
  • 2013
  • Submissions deadline(Nov )
  • Recruit additional assessors
  • 2014
  • Assessment
  • Publish outcomes (Dec)
the overall assessment framework

Overall quality







‘rigour, originality and significance’

‘vitality and sustainability’

‘reach and significance’

Maximum of 4 outputs per researcher

Template and data

Template and case studies

The overall assessment framework







Quality Profile









Quality Level

% of the submission





Each submission to a UOA will include staff selected by the HEI, their research outputs and associated environment and impact:

  • Normally one submission by an HEI to a UOA
  • Multiple submissions in exceptional cases
  • Joint submissions
  • Sub-panels to produce UOA descriptors and boundaries
research staff
Research staff

Submissions to include:

  • Details of eligible staff selected by the HEI
  • Up to 4 outputs per selected researcher
  • The number of outputs may be reduced without penalty for staff with circumstances that constrained their productivity:
  • Early career researchers
  • Clearly defined periods of absence
  • Complex circumstances
research outputs
Research outputs
  • All research outputs placed in the public domain during the publication period (1 Jan 2008 to 31 Dec 2013) will be eligible
  • Outputs from all types of research to be treated equally
  • Main panels to expand on:
  • The diversity of expected output types
  • How co-authorship will be handled
  • Requirements for additional information
  • Criteria for ‘double-weighting’ outputs of exceptional scale and scope
citation data
Citation data

We expect some panels will use citation information to support their review of outputs:

  • We will identify a standard approach to making data available to panels and provide guidance:
  • Judgements based on expert review; citations only inform ‘academic influence’
  • All types of research to be treated equally
  • Clear limitations for recently published outputs
  • Main panels to:
  • Decide whether or not citation data will be used
  • Be explicit about any use of citation data
research environment
Research environment
  • A structured template to describe, for example:
  • Overview
  • Strategy
  • People
  • Income, infrastructure and facilities
  • Collaboration and contribution
  • Standard data on research income and research students
  • Main panels to explain:
  • What kinds of evidence or information are required
  • The relative importance of each section
  • The approach to forming an environment ‘sub-profile’
research impact
Research impact
  • A broad generic definition of (non academic) impact
  • Sub-panels will make judgements based on:
  • Case studies detailing specific impacts
  • Information about how the unit has supported and enabled impact
  • Generic templates and scale for the number of cases
  • Main panels to expand on:
  • How the criteria (reach and significance) will be applied
  • Types of impacts and evidence appropriate to their disciplines
  • Suitable evidence of underpinning research quality
  • How the ‘impact template’ will influence the sub-profile
equalities and diversity
Equalities and diversity

We have built on the measures taken in the 2008 RAE:

  • A consistent approach to enabling staff with constraining circumstances to submit fewer outputs
  • All institutions to adhere to a code of practice on the fair and transparent selection of staff
  • Evidence of support for equalities and diversity (within the research environment)
  • Analysis of selection rates at sector level
  • Panels will be briefed on equalities
  • Ongoing advice from an equalities expert panel
panel working methods
Panel working methods

Working methods to explain:

  • How the main panels will in practice carry out their roles in providing oversight and governance
  • How the sub-panels will in practice carry out the assessment, including:
  • The approach to making use of assessors
  • The approach to allocating and reviewing submissions
  • Procedural matters
a note on assessors
A note on assessors
  • For the criteria phase, the funding bodies have appointed panels with broad expertise to develop the criteria; and with numbers in proportion to each panel’s remit
  • Additional assessors will be appointed in 2013 where the breadth or depth of a panel’s expertise needs to be extended, to undertake the assessment:
  • Assessors (either academic or user) will play a full and equal role to panel members in developing the sub-profiles (either outputs or impact)
  • They will be trained and briefed and attend meetings as necessary during the assessment phase